In late November we attended the packed out National Analytics Forum in Essex, hosted by the University of Essex and the ECDA (the Essex Centre for Data Analytics).
It’s been a while since our last blog on Office of Data Analytics (ODA), so we thought we’d break the silence by sharing insights on both the purpose of the National Analytics Forum, and how the Forum may be of interest to organisations involved in the field of data science in the public sector.
Initiated by the Avon and Somerset ODA as part of their Home Office Transformation Fund, the NAF is a peer-to-peer network and forum for all Offices of Data Analytics (ODAs) and similar initiatives working in the field of data science in the UK.
The NAF aims to encourage multi-organisational collaboration and champion the use of data science techniques in traditional and emerging fields of the public sector.
The network has been growing in the last few months, and now counts more than 40 members from a variety of organisations from across local public services and national government. Member organisations are both established ODAs and their partners from local government, such as police and fire rescue, as well as newer ODAs looking to take their first steps in this work.
The agenda for each NAF is set by what is important to the community. The November one was dedicated to data capabilities, and gave the opportunity to different ODAs to share their experience in shifting organisational culture, educating and supporting leadership for the different ways they could engage with data differently.
It was clear that for everyone in the room, what really helped make such a shift was bringing people on this journey, to help create an understanding of the value of data-driven approaches.
We don’t want people to blindly follow data - in all our projects people are the ones who are ultimately making decisions, but having data literacy.Avon and Somerset Police
For many, this journey is only possible when analyst teams work in new ways - expanding their expertise, and creating an environment for different ways of working for the whole organisation.
In Essex, analysts who were mainly performing business performance work, are now empowered to provide intelligence and actionable insight, and are being trained to gain even more advanced analytics and data science skills.Nicola Mallet, ECDA
As we hear time and time again, for innovative ideas to stick, you cannot neglect the ways of working, operating, and establishing the change with people.
The National Analytics Forum helps people really understand that we need to join forces, and build on collective knowledge. And in an emergent field like the one of ODAs, the National Analytics Forum is essential for considering how things are created and implemented - drawing on the collective knowledge and experiences, and establishing new ways of working to get the most from the change.